The Atonement and The Plan of Salvation

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“Christ in Gethsemane” by Giovanni di Paolo. Click image for source.

I honestly feel overwhelmed at the idea of discussing the atonement in a single blog post. There is always something new to learn about the atonement, and I think that we’ll die before we adequately understand it.

What it boils down to is the atonement heals us. It heals us from the effects of the fall. Without the atonement we have no plan of salvation – as we have no salvation. The atonement was necessary, and it needed to be infinite and eternal in order to fulfill God’s purposes. (See Moses 1:39.)

There are three major ways that I’ve felt the power of the atonement in my life that I will share here.

Healing from Our Own Sins

Of course, I’m most acquainted with the atonement in this context. I have sinned, repented, and sinned again. It feels like the closer I get to God, the more I realize I’m far from him. (Does that make sense?) Yet, the power of the atonement has played a part in my life when I have repented.

Repentance itself can be a bit of a process, but when I have repented, I have felt like Alma – who, when he was harrowed up in His sins felt grief, but as soon as he had the mind to repent, he could no longer feel his pains. (See Alma 36:17-19.)

Several years ago, I was a single mother living in Chester County, PA. It was a struggle for me, and if you read my blog regularly, I’m sure that you’ve read about this time in my life before. I prayed for help, strength, and a husband. Throughout the time that I was single, the Lord blessed me with everything I needed. Yet, I ached to be married and enjoy the blessings of a family.

After a few years, because of the wise advice I received from my bishop, I finally had the chance to meet Homey. It was amazing. Quickly, we fell in love.

I remember driving to drop the girls off at daycare one morning. As I drove up the final hill to my destination, I was thinking about the phone conversation I had with Homey the night before. I felt high with the love I had for him and he had for me. And I realized that this was a miracle. The Lord had worked the miracle of my life by allowing me to meet homey. The years of prayers were pointing to that moment.

I was also acutely aware of the sins I had committed, the weakness I had, yet the Lord’s willingness to bless me. I felt overwhelmed with gratitude and humility. I knew that the power of the atonement had enabled me to realize the blessing of meeting and marrying Pete. I knew that, in and of myself, I wasn’t worthy of the blessing I desired. I also knew that I wasn’t going to the Lord in and of myself, but that I had the help and intercession of the Savior. I knew that the Savior made it possible for me not only to repent, but also to experience desired blessings.

As I was dropping off my girls that cloudy, chili February morning, not only did I realize that the Lord worked a miracle in my life to meet Homey, but that He had already worked the biggest miracle of all: forgiving and healing me from my own past sins.

The Sins of Others

Unfortunately, we don’t sin in a vacuum. Often, the choices of others can have an impact on many more people than only themselves. There are times when we must experience the consequences of the sins of another.

Though we may still have a “peace of conscience” (as do not have to overcome our own sin). Our “peace of mind” may be unsettled (the effects of the sins of another). The atonement can heal us of this, too.

I know that when we are hurting – even if it is of through fault of our own – the Savior understands, and he can heal the broken-hearted. Jesus pleads:

ҦCome unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.

For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” – Matthew 11:28-30

The Lord doesn’t only ask sinners to come to Him. He beckons for anyone who labors and are heavy laden. Sometimes, the burdens we bear come as a result of the selfish decisions of another. Thankfully, the power of Christ’s atonement can lighten any burden.

Physical Pain – Limitations of Mortality

A third way that I have experienced the power of the atonement in my life is while enduring physical pain. Sometimes, it seems like enduring a physical trial would be easier than a divorce or death. I know that I have thought that before. And in some ways, that is true. But, I have learned not to underestimate the harrowing effect of physical pain!

My life has been blessed. Generally, I have had good physical health. However, there have been a few times in my life when I have endured physical trials – kidney stones, child-birth, rupturing cysts, and chronic pain from endometriosis (to name a few). It is amazing how these physical trials can be just as burdensome as the pain that comes from sin.

Thankfully, we do not have to suffer alone.

“And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people.

And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities.” – Alma 7:11-12

When you are in a hospital room, alone, trembling in pain – it really is comforting to know that Christ understands. While the pain may not go away, we can pray. We can pray for strength, comfort, and relief. It is also comforting to know that, thanks to Christ, we will not be bound by our mortal bodies forever. Because of Christ’s atonement and resurrection, we will one day enjoy perfected blessings. The perspective and comfort that comes through the atonement can turn even the most physically harrowing experiences into hallowed memories.

How have you felt the power of the atonement in your life? How does understanding the atonement help you to better understand the plan of salvation, in general?

Click here for tomorrow’s assignment.


7 thoughts on “The Atonement and The Plan of Salvation


    Once again an excellent read. Strangely enough I had a long talk with my uncle a few hours ago on praying after you have done something that is contrary to God’s will. I remember feeling too ashamed to pray after what I’ve done. Yet I longed for that old familiar feeling of comfort and peace I always get when I kneel down to pray. I start with addressing Heavenly Father and then stop thinking I have no right to call upon His name. I ask Him to forgive my sins and at the back of my mind I’m reminded how easily I fell into temptation. So I stopped, and decided to sleep. And then I remember the atonement. He DIED for me. My sins have been paid for. I am saved by His grace and not by my merits. And that useless feeling that I’m a sinner and then allowing satan to make me feel least deserving to commune with God disappears and my prayers are more fervent. In a strange sense I’m grateful for those moments of weakness because that has taken me to a place where I need to have a Redeemer to rescue me. If by myself I’m able to withstand, I often boast within myself that I can do it alone. Now I rely on Him to strengthen me and I understand that I’m a sinner saved by grace and striving for perfection. Thank you so much for the clarity in your blog.

    Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device

    1. Thanks for posting this comment. What you said reminds me of Paul:

      “Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.” – 2 Corinthians 12:10

      I also know what you mean about feeling like you’re not worthy to pray to Heavenly Father. One thing I’ve realized is that every time we pray, we must pray in Jesus’ name. Really no matter how wicked or righteous we are, we, in and of ourselves, are never able to pray directly to God – Christ intercedes even with our prayers. Remembering my reliance on Him helps me to keep things in a better perspective.

      Have you ever read Believing Christ, by Stephen E. Robinson? If you haven’t, I think that you would really like it.

  2. Pingback: The Plan of Salvation – Intro to Study Series « That Good Part

  3. Helene Mathee

    Dear Catania
    Thank you for recommending the book. Seems like nowaday I can’t get enough of LDS reads. It reminds me of when I joined the chuch at 16 and wanted to read everything there was on the Gospel. I recently discovered Larry Barkdull’s series on the Pillars of Zion and Ted Gibbons has been a great source when I teach Sunday School. Now 22 years later I don’t just read with a hunger for knowledge but to know the perfect will of God in my life.

  4. Pingback: The Doctrine of Christ « That Good Part

  5. Stephanie

    Another part of the Atonement that helps me so often is the Strengthening and Enabling Power of the Atonement. I think I have most experience with this branch of the Atonement in my life. Yes, I sin. The people around me sin. I have had very few physical pains. And, yes, Christ’s Atonement helps me with all of those things.

    But on a day to day basis, I need strength. I need help to push through the day when the kids are feisty, or help through the night when a child is sick. I need strength beyond my own to be cheerful and happy when Trent comes home after a particularly exhausting day. I need to be enabled with a power of patience towards my kids that I know I don’t have myself. I need energy and vigor when after a day of cleaning, feeding, cooking, washing, teaching, I still need to stay up late and finish graphic design work. Those are the times in my life when I yearn for that Power. I know the Savior is acquainted with my exhaustion, with my very last drop of patience, with the trials I have no control over. I pray for that Power everyday, for my Savior to buoy me up when this physical body and mind are weak.

    I love my Savior. I love that I grow closer and closer to Him as I invite Him into my trials. I love the scripture in Matthew 11, when I imagine being yoked to the Savior in my life. There is no way I can fail with Him there next to me.

    1. Stephanie,
      I love this! The enabling power of the atonement can help us in our daily lives. Recently, I’ve been feeling like I’m not living up to my abilities or expectations. I have a tendency to get a little overwhelmed. And this is the answer – the enabling power of Christ. Thanks so much for sharing. 🙂

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